SolarReserve is a private renewable energy company based in California. The company was established in 2007 through a partnership between US Renewables Group and United Technologies Corporation (UTC). SolarReserve builds solar power plants around the world and currently has operations in over two dozen countries.
SolarReserve’s main technology is concentrated solar thermal power. As mentioned earlier, the company focuses exclusively on the construction of utility-scale concentrated solar power plants that rely on molten solar thermal storage technology. Concentrated solar thermal power relies on the use of mirrors and lenses to concentrate solar thermal energy onto a small area. The heat from the concentrated thermal power is used to drive a heat engine that drives a generator that in turn produces electricity.
The molten salt thermal storage technology that is integrated into the plants that SolarReserve makes helps improve retention of the thermal energy so that the plants can generate electricity at night and during bad weather when there is no sunshine. The company also dabbles in photovoltaic solar technology, but on a lesser scale. In contrast to solar thermal power, photovoltaic solar technology relies on sun’s light rather than the sun’s heat to generate electricity.
Top 5 Largest SolarReserve Projects
1. Copiapo Solar Energy Project
The Capiapo Solar Energy Project, located in Chile, uses concentrated solar power in conjunction with molten salt thermal energy storage technology. The solar power plant can generate 260 MW of power, which is enough energy to power 560,000 homes. The project is Latin America’s largest solar project.
The Rice Solar Project, whose construction began in 2014, will result in generation of 150 MW of power through concentrating power technology. This project is currently on hold – primarily due to uncertainty in whether it would qualify for the Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) under the current language of the ITC. Currently, in order for a renewable energy project to qualify for the ITC, it must be “placed in service” by December 31, 2016. Large-scale project developers have actively been lobbying to change the ITC language from a “placed in service” standard of eligibility to a “commence construction” standard. While SolarReserve fully anticipates that this change will eventually be implemented, the “placed in service” eligibility still prevails today, which presents uncertainty for potential investors.
The Crescent Dunes solar power project in Nevada being constructed by SolarReserve is a large project that was backed by $737 million in federal loan guarantees. This plant has the capacity to generate 110 MW of power. The Crescent Dunes is one of the first big concentrated solar power projects to use molten salt storage technology, giving the plant the ability to store a massive 1,100 MWh of power.
The Redstone solar thermal project is located in South Africa, the first of its kind in the continent. The project will generate 100 MW of power using concentrated solar power with integrated molten salt energy storage technology. The project is expected to reach completion in 2018 and will supply about 200,000 people with power.
Jasper Solar Energy Project is also located in South Africa. This is a photovoltaic solar project that is capable of generating 96 MW of power. The project cost a total $260 million.
SolarReserve has quite a busy and bright future ahead of it with regard to solar thermal technology as well as energy storage technology. At the moment, the company has $1.8 billion worth of construction projects and solar power plant operations spread over 25 countries.
The company is also making innovative headways in the utility-scale solar generation field. The company has over 50 patents in the US and is currently operating some of the world’s most efficient and cost-effective concentrated solar power projects with integrated energy storage technology. The company also has a pipeline that will help develop a massive 6.6 GW of utility-scale solar power around the world.